Why Can't We All Get Along?

We live in a world of unrest.

I don’t understand it.

Nations are fighting like cats and dogs.

Countries are fighting like cats and dogs.

Political parties are fighting like cats and dogs.

Candidates are fighting like cats and dogs.

People are fighting like cats and dogs.

Families are fighting like cats and dogs.

Let me tell you about my cat and my dog.

I had a little gray poodle. Well, I didn’t. My son did. But I bought the food, so I claimed her. She had four little white feet. My son called her Mittens. He was young. She was a baby. Mittens the name stuck.

Mittens was family.

She was raised with my son.

There were times when I think she may have raised my son.

They were never apart until, of course, he started dating, and then she would wait on the bottom step of the stairs until he returned at night.

She never gave up on him.

When he went away to college, Mittens lay down on the bottom step of the stairs and waited.

A month later, she decided he wasn’t coming back and came up the stairs to bed.

She missed him as badly as we did.

I did not own a cat.

The black and white cat adopted me.

She roamed the neighborhood, ate breakfast at one house, lunch at another, and finally came for supper in my back yard. We had a wooden deck. We had a shade tree. We had a carport when it rained.

She had all the luxuries of home.

She had found herself a home.

I called her Traveler because she traveled from house to house and never felt out of place simply because she was never out of place.

The years passed, as years do.

Mittens became feeble and deaf and blind. It was hard for her to get around. But every morning, I would open the back door for her as I had for more than fifteen years. Every morning she would step gingerly out onto the deck, rain or shine, cold or hot.

Every morning, Traveler would be sitting there, waiting for her.

Traveler would place her shoulder against Mittens, guide her gently down the two steps that led to the yard, walk with her as she wandered through the garden, past the roses, down the fence line, and, when Mittens had finished what dogs do early in a backyard morning, Traveler made sure she made it back up the steps.

Traveler sat with Mittens and waited until I opened the door.

When I picked up the aging pup, Traveler was gone with a single leap to the top of the fence.

She remained the pup’s eyes and ears and companion until the day came when Mittens had walked out the back door for the last time.

We buried the little gray poodle beneath an elm tree.

Traveler sat on the fence and watched.

The next morning, I opened the door to head for work, and Traveler was sitting there just in case. She walked with me through the garden, past the roses, down the fence line, and to the car.

Traveler was always there.

Just in case.

Just in case Mittens walked back out the door.

At night, Traveler slept on the hood of my car, her face turned toward a mound of dirt beneath a pile of leaves.

I don’t know why the world, why nations, why political parties, why candidates, why people, why families want to keep fighting like cats and dogs.

I had a cat.

And a dog.

They didn’t fight.

They got along just fine.

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